Thursday, January 28, 2010

Breast Cancer Awareness

I count my lucky stars never to have known anyone ever diagnosed with the disease which claims 40,000 women each year. But as a woman, and as it is so prevelant in our lives, it is an important cause to support. This video is bound to make anyone smile. Watch, laugh, and you may even find yourself dancing along!

On a separate note, I wanted to share a funny story about my kids. I taught them the game "heads up seven up." It is a favorite game of my childhood. The kids sit at their desk with their heads down, and thumbs sticking up, while seven kids walk around quietly touching the thumbs of the sitting children. This particular group this week were VERY IN TO this game. Before making their rounds, they huddled in a sportslike circle for a strategic session of what to do and who to touch, removing their jackets and and even began to remove their shoes for added silence before I stopped them. I had to stop myself at their seriousness of the game. Oh Korean children, you make me laugh!

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Is it irony or have we actually merged into one person?

After lunch, typing away on our computers before our afternoon class, Kyle turns to me and says, "I feel like I am getting a fever blister."
"Where?" I ask
He points to the corner of his lip, which indeed looks agravated.
"You should go see the nurse" I advise. (Because we are at an English Village where the kids stay day and night, there is always a nurse on hand who gives medicine when required.)

After a few moments, he says, "It says here," looking at his computer screen "that sometimes a cut in the lip can feel like a fever blister. Maybe I will wait till morning."
"Sounds like a plan." I reply smiling at his cautious nature.

The next morning, as the annoying beeping of the alarm awoke us, and the first yawn graced my lips I realized from the burning sensation on my upper lip, that in fact I had a fever blister.
My eyes pivot immediatly to where Kyle had pointed previously. " Do you have a fever blister?" I demand.
"No, it must have been a cut." Kyle says with relief
"I never felt like I was getting a fever blister so how did I end up with one and you didn't" I implore without actual hope for an answer.

So there you have it. Is it irony or have we actually merged into one being with one feeling the others pain?

Monday, January 25, 2010

The Korean Population is shrinking

My dear friend Karen sent me an article recently about the declining population in Korea. There is a push for Koreans to have MORE babies, unlike China who enforces a one-child per family standard with fines if broken. Korea wants their population to pop them out faster and in greater numbers because of their declining numbers. It is an issue Japan is also dealing with with great fear. The fear is that the economy will plummit if the majority of the population has to be supported rather than working toward furthering the ever-increasingly competitive global economy.

But it is expensive to have children in Korea as it probably is in Japan. Education (especially for English lessons) is extravegent. And men are given preference over married women or women with children. It is acceptable in an interview to be asked if a woman is married because if she is, she is likely to have children soon, and therefore shouldn't be hired. There are two articles here addressing this issue. The first talks about the delining population and why. The second article talks about urging families to have more children with government incentives, and how this push might in fact make the females rise to an equal standing be pushed even further back.

#1 Korean Times
The number of childbirths here slid to a new low last year, amid growing concerns of a rapidly aging population.

The national birthrate fell to an all-time low, with one Korean woman expected to give birth to only one child through her life.

There were 438,000 births last year, 38,000 fewer than the 2004, the National Statistical Office (NSO) said in a preliminary report. It is the lowest level since 1970 when the NSO began tracking the data. In 1970 there were 100.7 million newborns, but this dropped below 500,000 for the first time in 2002. The figure has been sliding since then. The birthrate, or the average number of babies born to a woman age between 15 and 49, also hit a new low at 1.08, sliding from 1.16 in 2004. The figure shrank to less than a quarter of the 1970 rate, when one Korean woman was expected to bear, on average, 4.53 children throughout her life. Korea's birthrate was already the lowest among the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) countries in 2004. Korea's figure of 1.16 was even lower than that of Japan at 1.29, a long-time synonym for low birthrates. The rate stood at 1.71 in Sweden, 1.73 in Britain, 1.89 in France and 2.04 in the United States. Also, the number of births to mothers aged 30 and over exceeded that of mothers in 20s for the first time, with 51.6 percent of maternities being among those aged 30 or more. ``Delivery is delayed as more women participate in economic activities and get higher education, on top of marrying at older age,'' said Park Kyung-ae, official at the statistical service. Ten years ago, only 25.6 percent of babies were born to women aged 30 or over. The crude birth rate, or the number of children born per 1,000 people, recorded 9 infants, down from 9.8 in 2004. The figure was 31.2 in 1970. Korea's decreasing birthrate reflects an unstable job market, difficulties juggling with work and home duties, and increased financial burdens in raising children. A Korea Institute of Health and Society poll showed 49.9 percent of working mothers have had to give up work after having their first child. It also revealed Korean families with two children spend more than half of their income, on average, on their children's education. ``If the birthrate remains at the current level, Korea's population may fall below 40 million in 2050,'' said Kim Yong-hyun, director of the Ministry of Health and Welfare in charge of setting measures against low birthrate and aging society. ``Korea may become an aged society earlier than expected.'' Analysts have anticipated that it will take only 18 years for Korea to become an aged society, where people aged 65 and over account for more than 14 percent of the population, while it would take 72 years for the U.S. and 24 years for Japan. ``Korea's birthrate is among the lowest in the world according to statistics by the United Nations,'' Kim said. He expected the birthrate gap between Korea and other developed countries to widen, as the birthrate is on the rise since 2001 in most other developed countries. The Ministry of Health and Welfare said they will announce a pan-governmental plan to cope with the low birthrate next week, which would focus on supporting childcare and establishing social programs where women can pursue both career and parenting.

In Seoul, the Ministry of Health, Welfare, and Family Affairs has now explored a new tactic to boost South Korea's population growth: turning out the lights. At 7 PM today, and once a month subsequently, the lights in the government building will be turned out.
Generous gift vouchers are on offer for officials who have more than one child, and the department organises social gatherings in the hope of fostering love amongst its bureaucrats.
But critics say what is really needed is widescale reform to tackle the burdensome cost of childcare and education that puts many young people off starting a family

The complaint of the burdensome cost of childcare and education is highly relevant when examining who comprises the South Korean workforce. Overall, in 2005, Korean women represented 42% of the workforce. But a glance at 2001 numbers reveals that in 2001, 90% of South Korean college-educated men entered the workforce, compared to just 54% of college-educated women. This suggests that, unsurprisingly, jobs that are lesser-paid or so-called "unskilled" remain roles filled by women.Ordering citizens to "make babies" is already heteronormative, but a troublesome aspect of the policy is that it is inevitably targeted toward men. When a workforce is more male, asking employees to procreate reinforces the role of men in Korean homes as decisionmakers about both finances and reproductive health.
The Grand Narrative, graphs representing Korean women's employment by age bracket indicate Korean women's tumultuous entry and exit from the labor pool. Or, as the author phrases it, "For every birth, a Korean career dies."
Does the new "lights out" policy reinforce the inevitability of higher birth rates driving more women out of the workforce? Perhaps it just indicates that it was not women, but Korean male authorities with working privilege, careers less affected by the struggles of childcare, who brainstormed the experiment.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Kyle's first impressions of Korea

My impressions of Korea so far.

Disclaimer: My data pool is limited to the 11 days that we have been here, 3 of which were spent in a jet lagged stupor. Therefor, none of the following opinions should be considered as accurate reflections of reality.

Opinion 1; Koreans are obsessed with Neon. The brighter the better. Apparently there is no other way to advertise in Korea. If it doesn’t give you a seizure then it won’t sell the product.

Opinion 2; Korean cafeteria food is delicious. Spicy, tangy, and every now and then fried. How can anyone get tired of this? (subject to change in the not to distant future.)

Opinion 3; Old people in Korea can and will do whatever they damn well please. If you are sitting on the subway and a Korean wants your seat, be prepared to have them pull you out of it. It’s not that they don’t like you, it’s just what they do.
(Footnote; If you speak enough english, they will get up and move to a new seat. Again, it’s not that they don’t like you, they just can’t physically tolerate the sound of it for very long.)

Opinion 4; Koreans will often go out of there way to be polite and helpful. They are generally very friendly and have a great sense of humor. They seem to take a lot of pleasure in the small things.

Opinion 5; What they lack in a variety of fruits and veggies, they make up for in varieties of fungus and seafood. I’ve never seen so many different types of mushrooms and muscles. Go with what you got I suppose.

Opinion 6; To Koreans, saying you will do something is twice as important as actually doing it. This might just be a Yeongpyeong English Village thing but I have heard from others that this may also apply to Koreans in general. We shall see.

General Summary; Korea is pretty stinkin sweet. It’s a land of efficiency and yummy food. The people are fun loving and very independent. They are expressive and inviting and I’m greatly looking forward to the next 350 days!

Plus: Where else can it be cool to where a hat like this?? Only Korea!

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

The Name of the Wind

"Read to me" Kyle pleaded one evening. We often read to each other before going to sleep. It is a ritual I love and hope to continue for years to come. His choice of book however, was not one that particularly interested me. A fantasy novel. One of those novels which only true geeks read. A book that you might see at a Dungeons and Dragon tournament. I might be geeky, but I draw the line somewhere, and preferably further away from those social outcast classifications than closer. But Kyle insisted, so I conceded, like I do every time he gives me those melt your heart looks. I just can't resist those eyes.

The book was called, "The Name of the Wind." by Patrick Rothfuss

And it wasn't too bad. Which was the closest I could come to say that I enjoyed a fantasy novel.

When he finished the novel, I willingly began to read the novel for myself only after days of persistent prodding by my husband.

I should clarify. I don't really hate fantasy novels. In fact, I like the idea of a new world, even a fantasy one. The prejudice I have against this genre is the style in which it is written. Generally they use a lot of bland unnecessary descriptions and one dimensional characters. BAD WRITING. But after reading this book, I have come to the conclusion that not ALL fantasy books fall under this category. Yes, I admit I was wrong! It doesn't happen often, but I admit it when it happens :)

This author writes beautifully. I aspire to string together words to make music on paper as he does. Seriously, I LOVE his writing style. And the story: captivating, riveting!

"The strings felt strange against my fingers, like reunited friends who have forgotten what they have in common. I played soft and slow, sending notes no farther than the circle of our firelight. Fingers and strings made a careful conversation, as if their dance described the lines of an infatuation.

Then I felt something inside me break and music began to pour out into the quiet. My fingers danced; intricate and quick they spun something gossamer and tremulous into the circle of light our fire had made. The music moved like a spiderweb stirred by a gentle breath, it changed like a leaf twisting as it falls to the ground, and it felt like three years Waterside in Tarbean, with a hollowness inside you and hands that ached from the bitter cold.

One day, I will write in a way that will inspire others. Maybe it will be tomorrow, maybe in ten years, but someday!

(Pick up the book if you get a chance, you wont regret it)

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Our first few days in Korea

Tuesday evening- Exhausted after 26 hours of traveling, but relieved to have made it into Korea safely and finally with Kyle. First impressions of our apartment are positive. Scratch that, I am ecstatic! Two bedrooms, a living room with a pleather couch, TV and a real kitchen complete with a three set dining room and chairs. So we have two twin beds rather than one large double bed I'm not complaining because we HAVE OUR OWN APARTMENT!!! (this is the first time we have had our OWN place since we were first married.)

Wednesday- We are told today is the coldest day of the Korean winter so far. Yangpyeong as a rule is about five degrees colder than Seoul because it is in the mountains and the weather channel says Seoul is 10 degree with a wind chill of -3 F. My winter clothes are packed away at my old school in Bundang, so I am currently wearing Kyle's extra jacket and feel like an icicle in an oversized coat. Had the campus not been so beautiful, and surrounded completely by mountains, my feelings might have been more along the lines of "what have I gotten myself into!"
We are given a tour of what looks like colonial Virgina. Pine trees and snow, completing this perfect picture.
However so far, most of the teachers we have met are temporary help, only for the winter camp. I am anxious to see who we will be working with for the duration of our time here.

Thursday- We aren't really working yet. We have observed some classes, but basically that's it. That's fine with us. It gives us some time to settle in. We have been waking up early because of jetlag, but because of this, we have had plenty of time to use the on campus gym! That's right, we have our own gym. Gym memberships are SOO expensive in Korea, so this is a MAJOR plus.

Friday- We are asked if we would like the opportunity to teach adults at the other campus in Ansan. We really like the campus in Yangpyeong, but want to vary our skills so we agree since it will only be one month. The catch is, they are going to pick us up tomorrow. We are going to Bundang tonight to see friends. We will have to come back with time enough to pack to catch the van by 9pm. They have also agreed to pick up our suitecases at my old school in Bundang on the way to Ansan. I'm not looking forward to all this traveling. We were just getting settled.

Saturday- Last night we had so much fun visiting with friends. It was almost like I never left. They were all excited about meeting my imaginary husband. It was a running joke that I wasn't actually married and that I had just made up Kyle while I was working at SNET since no one had ever met him. Several people poked him to make sure he wasn't a figment of the imagination.
However this morning my stomach was irate with me. Wine mixed with not enough food, jet lag and spicy unsettling Korean food was a fatal mixture. I cannot travel like this. I can't even move more than a few feet without a battle raging in my stomach. He will have to go and pack us, and they can just pick me up with my luggage.

Sunday- 1:30am. We arrived in Ansan at 1:30am last night, and got up for work at 8am for a Korean breakfast of rice, kimchi and spinachy like soup with the director of the school. Seriously, all I want is cereal! Who can stomach fermented spicy cabbage in the morning.

The school has just been re-opened. Many English villages were closed during the H1N1 scare so this is it's grand re-opening. However it isn't very grand, and there are very few students or teachers for such a large facility. And we aren't even in Ansan really. We are on an island near Ansan. An island surrounded by frozen water. I'm not joking!

We have the option to live in an apartment 50 mins away or the dorms on campus. We are choosing both. The dorm during the week and the apartment for the weekend. Ansan is pretty close to Seoul, so there should be a lot to do, but I want to sleep in as much as possible during the week and would rather not make a huge commute. I hate commuting.
I'm not sure what to think about this place. They ask us to be patient as they are just starting out, but everything is disorganized and chaotic. We never even got a tour of the place. At the end we will be given the option to stay here or go back to Yangpyeong. My opinion is formed but I am trying to stay open and positive but that's hard when your grumpy. I'm grumpy because I am tired of running around like a crazy woman. I want to be in the same place for more than two nights, and want things to run smoothly. I have to remember, things don't run smoothly in Korea, just be persistent with what you want and go with the flow. Breath and go with the flow.

But what if the flow is frozen?

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

We are safe and cold in Korea

We were in the car by 5:30 am Monday morning driving the 45 mins to the Houston airport.
We arrived in Seoul at 6:40 pm Tuesday (Korean time)
We didn't get back to the school until 9:30 pm.
Total traveling time- 26 hrs (including driving time to and from the airport) (10 hour time difference)
We were pooped and frozen when we finally crawled into our hard cold bed.
Temperature today is in the 20s. Yippie!
The school is beautiful though. Look for more posts soon when we have our internet conected in our room.

Friday, January 08, 2010

2009 in Review!

This year has been a whirlwind of emotions so to commemorate it further, I have put together a slideshow of pictures. You might notice that the first half has a serious lack of Kyle in them. One of us had the camera, the other didn't. Hence the unevenness of photos.

I'm feeling a little bit grumpy however because the music I picked for the slide show wasn't accepted by Youtube so I spent nearly an hour this morning listening to music which they will allow. The song I picked isn't my favorite, but there were limited choices for the length. Please watch the slide show anyways. At least so I can feel that it wasn't hours wasted putting this together that no one watched. (talk about guilt laden)

Plus, you might be surprised to see a picture of yourself :)

Thursday, January 07, 2010

Where'd the Pumpkin go?

Super Walmart
Super Target

What do these stores have in common?

Empty pumpkin shelves!!

That's right folks, I have been to three stores, and zilch, nada, zip on the shelves for pumpkin! What is a girl to do when she has all of the ingredients to make a PUMPKIN blackbean soup, and NO pumpkin??

A while ago I heard on the news that this might happen because, of the small harvest farmers in the US had this year, heavy rains destroyed most of what had grown . Upon hearing this alarming news alert I said, "Kyle, we need to stock up on pumpkin!"

Evidently, I didn't take my advice. In fact, I lost that vital piece of information due to system overload. And now I have all the ingredients to make this delicious soup, except for pumpkin.

So I bought butternut squash as a substitute. Hope it tastes good. We'll let you know how it turns out!

Here is the recipe for you to try when the pumpkin returns to the shelves:

Pumpkin and Black Bean Soup


  • 2 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil, 1 turn of the pan
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 3 cups canned or packaged vegetable stock, found on soup aisle
  • 1 can (14 1/2 ounces) diced tomatoes in juice
  • 1 can (15 ounces) black beans, drained
  • 2 cans (15 ounces) pumpkin puree (found often on the baking aisle)
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1 tablespoon curry powder, 1 palm full
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin, 1/2 palm full
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper, eyeball it in the palm of your hand
  • Coarse salt
  • 20 blades fresh chives, chopped or snipped, for garnish


Heat a soup pot over medium heat. Add oil. When oil is hot, add onion. Saute onions 5 minutes. Add broth, tomatoes, black beans and pumpkin puree. Stir to combine ingredients and bring soup to a boil. Reduce heat to medium low and stir in cream, curry, cumin, cayenne and salt, to taste. Simmer 5 minutes, adjust seasonings and serve garnished with chopped chives.


Wednesday, January 06, 2010

Guess who almost has a VISA!!??

That's right... ME!!!

Monday 8:45 am- Phone alarm goes off. We press every button we can think of to make the darn thing stop making noises.

8:50- We grudgingly roll off of our air mattress. Luckily the air mattress is on the floor, and during the night looses a significant amount of air, so it isn't a far fall.

9:15- We are ready to go to Uncle Tim's dentist appointment. (Just in case you missed it, we are awaiting our departure in Houston with uncle Tim who has graciously let us squat at his place until our flight Monday morning. And why are we leaving from Houston? click here) Tim, being only one person has only ONE car. Go figure he would just have an extra car laying in wait for unexpected guests. Which means we have to share. Luckily, Kyle and I, despite being only children, are generally good sharers.

10:45 We drop Tim off at school (he is a vice principal) and contact ON STAR for directions to the Korean Consulate. On Star is awesome ya'll! You tell them where you are going and they get you there. And all I can say is that we would have been SCREWED had we not had on star to guide us through this labyrinth city among the deranged Houston drivers. Four or five highways later, we were at our destination.

12:15 I walk in victorious. I am told everyone is out to lunch and to come back in 45 min. The raging storm brews and had it not been for my calming husband, it might have blown out and made a mess of that consulate. Kyle took my hand, said thank you to "the messenger" and guided me out of the office.

12:20 We go to the Galaria to eat lunch and waste 45 min.

1:45 Back at the Consulate, I'm asked "where is your sealed transcript?"
"What!?" I ask "Oh D@#$ #$### #@@@%!" As the wooshing of gusts from that storm within begin swirling around the office.
"I'll be back, we left it at the house." I say calmly hiding my vehemence behind a mask of serenity.

Yes, evidently, I am that stupid.
Dear Brain,




Brain's response:

We drove back to Tim's house and were back in the car by 3:10 headed back to the consulate. This mistake cost us over an extra hour and a half of driving time in Houston traffic. Not a mistake I should have made, but I did, and we paid for it in sanity.

At least it is complete. They said it should be ready for pick up today at 4pm. Cross your fingers.

Monday, January 04, 2010

2009 part dos

(part II of 2009 in review) written in diary form...

July 14
I have flown home without telling anyone but Kyle. He met me at the airport, and I hardly recognized him. I lost the parking ticket and we had to pay an exorbitant amount of money to leave the airport, but at this point I don't care. I would have paid $100, and for a cheapskate like me, that is a LOT of money. Kyle took me to a hotel in the historical King William's district. He had hand made chocolate covered strawberries and had scattered the room with rose petals. It was terribly romantic.

In the morning, I didn't want to get out of bed. I didn't want to tell anyone that I was home for days. I wanted Kyle all to myself. He was in my arms, and I wasn't letting go.

July 16
I surprised my mom at work. She hadn't expected it. Her first reaction was "What's wrong?"

I have no desire to answer anyone's questions right now. In a way, I feel like a wounded pup afraid of another blow, but at least I have my husband and right now, that's all that matters.

August 28
We have been so lazy. I went from working full time, to spending my days as a cat, eating and napping, occasionally batting at things that pass in front of me. After spending a few restful weeks at the coast bathing in each others presence, life has resumed it's normal pace. No jobs as of yet. I have been looking, but without much success.

And man is it hot. This has been one of the hottest and driest summers on records, but thankfully last night God showered us with that much needed hydration in a thunderstorm to be remembered.

September 3

Our third anniversary we spent very casually with a picnic of Greek food at Comanche Outlook with a spectacular view of San Antonio. Have I mentioned that I love being married?

September 16
We just went through this life management seminar thingy- and I am wavering from hanging from a twinkling star with frolic, and falling over fro exhaustion and woe. I got so much out this weekend, and then it happened, Kyle admitted that he has been continuing to lie. And that first admission in February, was only partially truth. He never failed the tests. He never took the tests. He hasn't graduated STILL!!!
We had a 10 week one day a week Happiness seminar start Monday, and I had to fight the tears nearly every second we sat listening. My emotions were all cascading off the jagged edge together at the exact same time, and all I could do was sit like an outsider and watch has they collided and somersaulted together at the waters edge. It was if they were participating without my consent in some game I had chosen not to participate in.

September 30
I have come to the conclusion that what Kyle has done was admirable. Although he has lied to me in the past, he has come clean not only to me, but to everyone in his life, and I am choosing to view him not as a liar, but as a brave individual. I have to admit, I do not fully trust him yet, and he is still re-gaining my trust, but so far, I have been astounded with the changes I have seen in him. Landmark has done so much for our relationship. I am so glad that the truth has finally come out. We can finally move on with our lives!

October 25
For some reason, I can't get into the Fall spirit. I love Halloween. Typically Kyle and I carve pumpkins, but we never made the time this year.
I am tired of being unemployed. I am ready to be back in Korea. Kyle has completed his Spanish tests. And as I thought, he aced them all. I know because I listened on the phone as he spoke with Texas State (where he took his Spanish courses). Why he was so petrified to take them, I will never understand. There is much I will never understand about the workings of his mind. He is so close. He is almost a graduate. We have only been waiting for this moment for two years. I can almost feel victory in our hands!

November 14
Our Utah trip was a blast! I am so glad we got the opportunity to visit Leslie, Peter and Jennifer. I miss having friends. We have friends here, but we hardly see them. Many are busy, but I have also holed myself into a cocoon, and often don't wish to see the outside world. I enjoy the outside world when I see it, but I am feeling worthless recently. Being unemployed and in our particular situation makes me feel unaccomplished. I know that isn't true, but I feel lazy and slug like.

November 16
My only living grandparent is in the hospital. She was placed on the ventilator last night. As we were packing, I lay on the floor as useful as a pile of bricks. Thank God for my husband. He packed my clothes and lifted me from my fetal position from the floor and onto the bed. What would I do without him. Tomorrow will be a long day.

November 17
They gave her a ten percent chance of living yesterday. My mom was distraught as we drove the 7 hours to Lubbock. My mind was numb. nothing.

She can't speak because of the tubes in her throat, but she doesn't look on the brink of death. I am so relieved. I don't know what I would do without my grandmother.

November 22
She is officially out of danger and is breathing with the help of an oxygen machine instead of a ventilator. Kyle and I are going to go to San Antonio and Corpus for Thanksgiving. And, I think we have found a school we like in Korea. They have offered us positions. Yay!
(artist:Amanda Spicer)
December 11
After Thanksgiving, we drove back to Lubbock. Not before driving to Austin to take care of everything needed to apply for visas for our schools in Korea. We ended up driving to Austin twice and having to run in the rain quite a bit, but it has been done. Our papers have been sent off and now all we have to do is wait.

p.s. today is our dating anniversary! Happy nine years!

December 19
Today is Kyle's graduation date. He's not walking the stage, but as of today, he is a graduate!! Hurray!

December 29
Bad news: I can't get my visa before we our departure date. They aren't issuing visas this week. Stupid consulate.

December 31
In Houston with the Rogers clan. The video scavenger hunt was a blast! I can't wait to do that again next Christmas. Fireworks and a sillystring fight in front of uncle Tim's house was a perfect ending to 2009. This year, I am ready to be through with 2009. It is not a year I particularly want to hold onto. 2010, here we come!

Sunday, January 03, 2010

2009 part uno

Had I kept a diary in 2009, rather than this blog, it might have looked like this:

January 1st:
We celebrated the New Years last night at a Casino which is exclusively for foreigners. Gambling in Korea is illegal, except for foreigners. Foreigners may throw away their money however they like. It was surprising however, how muted the excitement over the New Years was. I expected a big hooray like in the US, but instead, the players hardly looked up from their hands as we jumped up and down excitedly at the turn of a new year.

My feelings for the changing of the year is muddled. On one hand, it is like opening the first page of a book with sparkling white blank pages and fresh jet black ink in hand. The smell of the crisp uncontaminated paper is rejuvinating, and yet intimidating. What is one to do without guidelines? Is there really such thing as a fresh start?

As I hugged and kissed the other teachers as the fireworks on the television exploded in sprays of illuminated joy, I was painfully reminded that I had left my love on another continent. When will he get here? I hope it is soon. I hope it is before our ski trip!

February 14th

I cried on the phone today while talking with Kyle. I wanted to celebrate Valentines with him but he doesn't seem any closer to getting here than when I left. It's been really hard being here without him. My twin bed is cold and small and I miss snuggling in the crook of his arm and falling asleep feeling utterly and completely loved. Hugging my teddy bear just isn't the same.

February 15th

Kyle called as I was about to walk out the door to work out. This time he was crying. "You need to come home." were the only words I could make out. My heart stopped. I thought he was saying that someone had died. No one had died, but my complete trust in him died that day. He managed to tell me that he had been lying to me. He said he failed his tests and that he still hasn't graduated. How could he lie to me to my face? How could someone who loves you lie like that? My eyes shed no tears, but my heart wept and is weeping still. I am deflated like a withered balloon ignored for weeks, floating amongst the dust and dirt skipping along the floor. Kyle was staying in Dallas. I called my mom and told her the truth, but Kyle asked me not to tell anyone else. He is ashamed, so very ashamed. I won't tell anyone to protect him, but I hate lying. I hate that this is happening. I love him. I am not going to leave him. He promises he will make it up to me. I feel like one of those abused women who will believe anything? Am I being naive? Am I becoming one of those women?

He is going to stay with my mom while he takes his tests again. He needs help, but if I went home, I feel like I would just be enabling him. I want him to be able to take care of things on his own. I know he can, why can't he just find the confidence? I have confidence in him. My family thinks he could spin the Earth on one finger if he wanted to. Why can't he see what we see?

March 27th

Today is Kyle's birthday. I was hoping he would be in Korea to celebrate with me, but alas, he is still in Texas. He tells me he has passed his tests, but is waiting for the school to process his papers. I am so OVER waiting. I am OVER being alone. How much longer is this going to go on? Was it a mistake, my coming before he had his physical diploma? I am enjoying the work. I love the people I work with. I just wish that Kyle could enjoy it with me. This is a whole new world and its just not as fun without Kyle.

April 13

I am really disappointed today. My heart was determined to stay strong through my birthday. I was sure Kyle would get here by my birthday, and he's not. But my heart didn't break. I always think it will break, but it keeps on pumping. Spring is upon us, and although the flowers bring joy to my heart, there is an emptiness, a hole and nothing but Kyle can fill it.

The papers still haven't been processed. He swears he's telling me the truth. I believe him because I don't think he would lie to me again. Our relationship couldn't handle more lying.

And I am sick. I am sick ON MY BIRTHDAY! Boo.

May 5

In games class today, instead of playing games with the kids, I wrote a prose that I am really proud of. It was metaphorical of how my emotions are holding up pertaining to being separated from my love. I am surprised actually with how well I have handled it all. I fully expected to have fallen apart by now. Well, actually, I NEVER in my wildest imagination or worst nightmare expected to be apart for this long. But Kyle thinks he will be getting on a plane by mid May. He is having some issues with the state office where they give the appositille stamp, but at this point, we have decided to bring him over on a spousal visa just so we don't have to be apart while we wait for the paperwork to be processed. I CANNOT wait. Only a few more days until I hold my darling in my arms, and once he is there, you better believe I ain't letting go!

June 20
We recently went to a Korean baseball game and ate dried squid. I don't recommend the squid. It was like jerky, but fishy, but for whatever reason, they are all the rave at Korean games. The baseball game was fun- not that I really payed much attention to the actual game. I also attended the wedding of one of our Korean co-workers. If I do say so myself, I was looking good, but alas I didn't have a date. Kyle isn't here... this can't go on like this.
(artist: Jim kazanjian)
July 1
I had a meeting with my boss... unless Kyle can send his paperwork by the end of the week, they aren't going to hold his position. Not that I blame them. I don't blame them. In fact, I think they have been extremely generous and patient, more so than they needed to be. My contract ends in a week. If he doesn't get his paperwork in, I'm not going to renew my contract. I should be bummed, but really I am ecstatic. Either way, I am going to see my husband VERY VERY soon. What more could I ask for? A job? That's not even CLOSE to as important as being with my husband. The way I see it, either scenario is WIN-WIN.

...The next six months to follow in the next post...